The final draft of the new guidelines for K-12 science education, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), were unveiled on April 9th. These new, voluntary standards identify the key science and engineering content that students will need to be aware of to be successful in later college and careers.
Created and led by 26 states, this initiative outlines individual topics to be taught, such as climate change and evolution, as well as a greater focus on the scientific method in general.
According to Matt Krehbiel, a Science Education Program Consultant in Kansas, “The NGSS aim to prepare students to be better decision makers about scientific and technical issues and to apply science to their daily lives. By blending core science knowledge with scientific practices, students are engaged in a more relevant context that deepens their understanding and helps them to build what they need to move forward with their education...”
A 2012 study on scientific education found that while students are able to conduct experiments by following instructions, they are mostly unable to complete more complicated experiments requiring them to think for themselves and put their knowledge to use in new situations. They are even worse at explaining their results and drawing conclusions.
The NGSS guidelines seek to address this problem in particular. Bruce Alperts, PhD, two-term President of the National Academy of Sciences and Editor-In-Chief of Science magazine, said “A focus on these [scientific] practices, rather than on content alone, leads to a deep, sustained learning of the skills needed to be a successful adult, regardless of career choice. We must teach our science students to do something in science class, not to memorize facts."
The website for the new standards, NextGenScience.org, was created by Synaxis technology solutions. This was a massive undertaking, and to deal with the huge amount of content hosted on the site, Synaxis implemented a number of methods key to filtering and searching through the data.
To provide insight into visitor browsing habits, Synaxis also included a robust analytics software to track visitor activity and website performance along a number of metrics. This information will make the site easier to use and help the administrators provide high-quality customer support.
Two reverse proxies and several load balanced web servers, in combination with a content delivery network (Cloudflare), are used to host the site content. This framework allows the NGSS site to maintain a high performance level even under heavy traffic.